Prestigious grant powers research into revolutionary battery technology

Research by our Department of Chemistry into alternatives to conventional batteries has been boosted by funding from the European Union.

Professor Karl Ryder and Professor Andy Abbott from the Materials Centre in our Department of Chemistry have won EU finding for a blue-skies project aimed at developing a new and revolutionary type battery based on aluminium and sulphur.

The project SAlBAGE (Sulfur-Aluminium Battery with Advanced Polymeric Gel Electrolytes) is a consortium of EU universities and a battery testing company.  The total value is €3M of which €545,000 will come to Leicester.  The project aims to deliver a new type of battery based on aluminium (rather than lithium).  Aluminium is more abundant, cheaper and safer than lithium.

The project is funded under the EU (Horizon 2020) Future Emerging Technologies scheme which is the most competitive of the EU funding mechanisms.  This award is the first of its type for the University of Leicester.

In the SAlBAGE Project, a new secondary Aluminium Sulfur Battery will be developed. An aluminium negative electrode will be combined with a sulfur positive electrode including the unprecedented use of redox mediators, to facilitate sulfur reaction kinetics and boost performance.  The new battery is expected to have a high energy density (1000Wh/kg) and low price compared with the current Li-ion technology (-60%).

The special features of the resulting battery (flexibility, adaptability, shapeability) will allow the researchers to design a new device with the focus put on strategic applications such as transport, aircraft industry or ITs, for which the SALBAGE battery will be specially designed and tested in relevant conditions.

To achieve the objectives a strong consortium has been gathered, with reputed experts in all the relevant fields, such as development of ILs and DES (University of Leicester, and Scionix Ltd.), polymerization (ICTP- CSIC), synthesis and characterization of materials for aluminium anode (TU Graz) and sulfur-cathode (University of Southampton) and computational modelling (TU Denmark). This consortium is led by a European SME, Albufera Energy Storage, expert in the development and testing of batteries, with great interest in the future market exploitation.

  • This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 766581.